China Steams Ahead with New Carrier, While India Waits for Approval

China Steams Ahead with New Carrier, While India Waits for Approval


The commencement of sea trials for China's colossal aircraft carrier, the Fujian, casts a spotlight on the evolving balance of power in the Indian Ocean Region.

This behemoth, displacing a staggering 80,000 metric tons, signifies China's ambitious naval modernization program. This Type-003 class warship ranks as the world's third-largest carrier, behind only by the U.S. Navy's Nimitz and Gerald R. Ford class giants. The Fujian serves as a potent symbol of China's strategic aspiration to become a dominant maritime power.

While China surges forward, India's plans for its next aircraft carrier, the IAC-2, remain stalled, awaiting crucial government approval. This disparity in pace underscores the differing strategic priorities between the two nations.

China's Rapid Naval Expansion​

China's naval expansion has been nothing short of remarkable. In 2012, they commissioned their first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, followed by the launch of the Shandong in 2019. This trajectory reflects China's audacious goal of possessing over 10 operational carriers by 2050.

India's Naval Considerations​

India, a pioneer in Asian carrier operations, acquired its first aircraft carrier, the HMS Hercules, from the United Kingdom in 1961. Today, the Indian Navy operates two carriers: the INS Vikramaditya (procured from Russia) and the recently commissioned INS Vikrant, India's first domestically built carrier (IAC-1).

However, China's growing presence in the Indian Ocean Region necessitates that India strengthens its own naval capabilities. This urgency is further amplified by the delay in approving the IAC-2 program.

The IAC-2 and the Debate​

The proposed IAC-2 would displace 45,000 tons and is estimated to cost approximately ₹40,000 crore (roughly $4.8 billion USD). This carrier, to be built by Cochin Shipyard Limited, would be modeled after the recently launched INS Vikrant.

A key factor contributing to the delay in approving the IAC-2 is the ongoing debate within the Indian military establishment. This debate centers on the relative importance of aircraft carriers versus submarines in safeguarding India's maritime interests.

While submarines excel in covert operations aimed at denying the enemy the use of specific maritime areas, aircraft carriers provide crucial power projection and sea control capabilities.

Sea control involves the coordinated deployment of warships, aircraft, helicopters, and amphibious forces to maintain dominance over a particular maritime region.

The Formidable Fujian​

The Fujian boasts several cutting-edge features, including an advanced Catapult Assisted Take-Off & Barrier Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) system with an innovative electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS).

Launched in June 2022 from Shanghai's Jiangnan Shipyard, this 316-meter-long behemoth is expected to enter service in 2026.

With an estimated top speed of 31 knots and the capacity to accommodate 3,000 personnel, the Fujian is the largest aircraft carrier ever built outside the United States. It is powered by conventional steam turbines with diesel generators.

Looking Ahead​

The upcoming sea trials of the Fujian are expected to span over a year, with a focus on evaluating the reliability of its propulsion and electrical systems.

China plans to equip the carrier with upgraded versions of its J-15 fighter jets, alongside next-generation aircraft like the J-35 stealth fighter, the KJ-600 early warning aircraft, and the JL-10 advanced trainer jet.

India's wait for the IAC-2's approval creates a strategic quandary. As China's naval power surges, India faces growing pressure to expedite its own naval modernization efforts to maintain a credible maritime deterrent in the Indian Ocean Region.
 
It will take at least 25 years to make something like Fujian if CSL starts laying foundation today.

So yeah, by 2049 or later, India will respond.
 
Vikrant and Vikramaditya are some 45,000 tons each in displacement, not 60,000 tons. That said, a larger carrier is a requirement, but possibly not at the cost of having three carriers.

Something to consider would be to green-light IAC-II immediately after the elections. If that were done, we could be looking at a contract signing in late 2025 or so, a keel laying in 2027, launching in 2030, and commissioning in 2035-36 at the earliest.

Simultaneously, work needs to be done on a 75,000 ton nuclear-powered CATOBAR carrier. This ship would ideally have to start construction in 2034-35 (around the time IAC-II would start sea trials), with a keel laying in 2036-37, launching in 2040, and commissioning in 2045-46, right around the time (or immediately after) Vikramaditya's planned retirement.

Once that was done, we would have about a decade to plan for IAC-IV and IAC-V to replace Vikrant and IAC-II in the late 2060s and mid 2070s.
 
I believe India has expertise to make 80k ton AC. Only thing we lack is finance. Few years ago, China already laid keel for Nuke AC on the lines of Fujian. So, India shouldn't wait further.

Basically, China too has only 2 ACs minus Liaoning. Fujian and Shandong is build from scratch, but Liaoning is not capable much, it's a refurbished and too old. Liaoning is just a testbed.
 
India needs 4 Carrier battle groups (CBG). Based on 2 Vikrant-class carriers and 2 Vishal-class carriers. INS Vishal shall replace INS Vikramaditya. 2nd Vishal-class AC would ideally be nuclear-powered.
Moreover, Vikrant-class ACs shall be supported by Kolkata, Visakhapatnam class Destroyers and Talwar class frigates while Vishal-class ACs shall be supported by Next Generation (Project18) Destroyers (144 VLS, 8+ ships) and Shivalik, Niligiri-class frigates
It is ideal that Next Gen Frigates are developed equivalent to European FREMM class or US Constellation class frigates. We also need a good network of SSNs (8-12 at least).

Yes these are lot of things to do... But are necessary for India.
 
We can't match China in warship numbers must lead in techologies ! Next we should make a 65000 electric powered AC before 2032 and operate F-35B and Rafale-M ! Next we should jointly make a 75000+ ton nuclear powered AC with France and operate F-35C and AMCA-N from its deck !
 
Yes, indeed. India needs at lest 5 carrier groups to protect their vast blue water region and specially block the China in entering IOR in case of any eventuality occurs with Pakistan. China though has bigger army but, it is not capable enough to fight wars and it don't want to fight a war definitely with India as it knows what will happen then. It is using them to bully the small neighboring countries and India should not take it lightly
 
I believe India has expertise to make 80k ton AC. Only thing we lack is finance. Few years ago, China already laid keel for Nuke AC on the lines of Fujian. So, India shouldn't wait further.

Basically, China too has only 2 ACs minus Liaoning. Fujian and Shandong is build from scratch, but Liaoning is not capable much, it's a refurbished and too old. Liaoning is just a testbed.
In theory, we can build a 80,000 ton carrier. However, besides financing, we are also a tad short in technology, unless you want a massive STOBAR supercarrier.

Technologies such as an indigenous electromagnetic catapult system are still in the small-scale prototype stage. It'll take a few years before we can get those going. Of course, we can buy stuff like that. Indeed, the US offered us a set of 3 EMALS plus AAG for INS Vishal, but that 2018 offer was for 1 billion USD, which is a tad too high.

What I propose, instead, is this: If we start work on IAC-II in 2026 (which means a green-lighting in the next 3 or so months), we can have IAC-II entering service in 2035-36. That would allow us almost 7 years from now to finish work on our local EMALS system, and integrate that on IAC-III, which would start construction in 2034-35, and would be commissioned in 2045-47.

Nuclear propulsion is another story. However, with BARC working on the 190 MW reactors for the Project 75A and S3-class submarines, we could use those on IAC-III, and the next 6-8 years would be sufficient to get those going as well.
 
India needs 4 Carrier battle groups (CBG). Based on 2 Vikrant-class carriers and 2 Vishal-class carriers. INS Vishal shall replace INS Vikramaditya. 2nd Vishal-class AC would ideally be nuclear-powered.
Moreover, Vikrant-class ACs shall be supported by Kolkata, Visakhapatnam class Destroyers and Talwar class frigates while Vishal-class ACs shall be supported by Next Generation (Project18) Destroyers (144 VLS, 8+ ships) and Shivalik, Niligiri-class frigates
It is ideal that Next Gen Frigates are developed equivalent to European FREMM class or US Constellation class frigates. We also need a good network of SSNs (8-12 at least).

Yes these are lot of things to do... But are necessary for India.
For now, we should first focus and plan out a sustained three carrier force, and then move towards a four-carrier force. As things are, IAC-III seems to be coming at a point where INS Vikramaditya would be atleast a few years past her retirement age.

That said, with sufficient governmental willpower, we could go for IAC-III (INS Vishal) itself to be nuclear-powered and use CATOBAR. That would allow for IAC-IV (Vikrant's replacement or a fourth carrier) to be identical, making operations simpler.

In theory atleast, we could fit a single EMALS on IAC-II along the angled deck. It would allow for heavier launches, and would give us a decade's worth of operational and maintenance expertise on such systems.
 
We can't match China in warship numbers must lead in techologies ! Next we should make a 65000 electric powered AC before 2032 and operate F-35B and Rafale-M ! Next we should jointly make a 75000+ ton nuclear powered AC with France and operate F-35C and AMCA-N from its deck !
Firstly, no one has offered the F-35 to India, be it the F-35B or F-35C, so that's a non-starter. Secondly, navalising AMCA is not exactly a feasible solution unless you have a CATOBAR carrier. While IAC-III would be CATOBAR, navalising AMCA only for that ship would be too much work.
 
Yes, indeed. India needs at lest 5 carrier groups to protect their vast blue water region and specially block the China in entering IOR in case of any eventuality occurs with Pakistan. China though has bigger army but, it is not capable enough to fight wars and it don't want to fight a war definitely with India as it knows what will happen then. It is using them to bully the small neighboring countries and India should not take it lightly
And who exactly is going to pay for a five-carrier Navy when the present funding is insufficient to sustainably maintain two carriers? As it is, the Navy is having to take serious compromises for a third carrier's construction.

Oh, and don't write off China completely. Yes, they don't have combat experience and some of their equipment is sub-optimal, but as the Soviets showed, quantity has a quality of its own, and the Chinese surely have quantity on their side.
 
we should put some heavy resources in developing AC killer tech.....!!!
 
We don't want to occupy land like china and therefore big carriers are not required.
Better to have 5 carriers of 45 tons with emals rather than three 70 ton class
 
We don't want to occupy land like china and therefore big carriers are not required.
Better to have 5 carriers of 45 tons with emals rather than three 70 ton class
Smaller carriers have their disadvantages, be it for offensive or defensive purposes. What we need is a balance, or alternatively, have 3-5 large (60,000+ ton) carriers plus 4-8 smaller (<40,000 ton) LHDs / LHAs. This is a long-term plan, however.
 
In theory, we can build a 80,000 ton carrier. However, besides financing, we are also a tad short in technology, unless you want a massive STOBAR supercarrier.

Technologies such as an indigenous electromagnetic catapult system are still in the small-scale prototype stage. It'll take a few years before we can get those going. Of course, we can buy stuff like that. Indeed, the US offered us a set of 3 EMALS plus AAG for INS Vishal, but that 2018 offer was for 1 billion USD, which is a tad too high.

What I propose, instead, is this: If we start work on IAC-II in 2026 (which means a green-lighting in the next 3 or so months), we can have IAC-II entering service in 2035-36. That would allow us almost 7 years from now to finish work on our local EMALS system, and integrate that on IAC-III, which would start construction in 2034-35, and would be commissioned in 2045-47.

Nuclear propulsion is another story. However, with BARC working on the 190 MW reactors for the Project 75A and S3-class submarines, we could use those on IAC-III, and the next 6-8 years would be sufficient to get those going as well.
We can't do anything other than expression of opinion. If u are keen to propose something then obviously you should contact PMO and Navy instead of me.
 
We can't do anything other than expression of opinion. If u are keen to propose something then obviously you should contact PMO and Navy instead of me.
The Navy very obviously has these things in mind. They are far more aware of operational realities and constraints than I, or most of us on this platform (including you, possibly) are. I am only making my point based on what public information is available, and using some simple extrapolatory logic.

Now, if you know something that is not very commonly known and are using that as a basis of say I am wrong, please share it (if you can). If not, fair enough. Either way, please have a good day.
 
We should place agni prime in Andaman. We should also design new destroyers with integration of modified agni primes until hypersonic cruise missiles are inducted.
 
No need to build a third carrier; build weapons to destroy an aircraft carrier if Chinese dare to enter the Indian Ocean. Do not gave to ape China.
 
We should place agni prime in Andaman. We should also design new destroyers with integration of modified agni primes until hypersonic cruise missiles are inducted.
Sir, I doubt whether it would be feasible to integrate canister-launched ballistic missiles such as the Agni-P onto future frontline warships. It would just take up top much space.

Instead of that, we could potentially look to add a few canisters of these on OPVs and the like, similar to when INS Subhadra tested the Dhanush missiles? That would only take up second-line warships.
 

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